Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Good Reading: crime-related contents

As I said earlier this year, one of the magazines I write reviews and books-related features for is Good Reading, the Australian-based "magazine for book lovers". Each month the magazine has more than 60 new or recent books reviewed, news from around the literary world, and several features articles (including author interviews, literature-related travel articles, overviews of different sub-genres, and much more). It's a cool magazine, and I am proud to write for them.

The great thing is, if you aren't able to get your hands on a hard copy in Australia or New Zealand, you can instead become an online subscriber (for a low price), allowing you access to not only the current issue, but a massive database of archived feature articles (including more than 200 great author interviews), thousands of books reviews, and more. You can find more information HERE.

As you can imagine, I concentrate mainly on crime/thriller fiction when it comes to my contributions to Good Reading. Each month I'll give you a heads-up on ALL the crime or thriller-related content in the upcoming issue (ie not just my articles/reviews). For the December/January issue which is now on the shelves, that includes:

"Searching for Susie..." (by Craig Sisterson) - an interview with Academy Award-winning screenwriter Philippa Boyens, who co-wrote the big-screen adaptation of Alice Sebold's 'emotional thriller' THE LOVELY BONES, which hits movie theatres in wide release worldwide later this month. The film of a book that for many years was considered unfilmable, is already getting Oscar buzz.

Philippa spoke to me about a number of things, including how she got into screenwriting, working with Peter Jackson, the challenges of adapting beloved novels such as THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy and THE LOVELY BONES for film, and much more.

"More than Words" (by Sarah Minns) - an interview with acclaimed crime writer Laura Lippman. Laura speaks to Sarah about being inspired by lesser-known true crime cases, setting her novels in her hometown of Baltimore, her ongoing reporter-turned-PI character Tess Monaghan, and much more.

Anyone can view Good Reading's books database online, which includes information about the book, a note of which issue it was featured in, and a snippet from the review (subscribers can see the full reviews). The crime/thriller books reviewed in the November issue are outlined below - the reviewers this month are myself (CS), Linda George (LG), Lachlan Jobbins (LJ), Clive Hodges (CH), and Alex Fraser (AF).

by Alix Bosco (4 stars - CS)
When a rugby star, who began life on the city streets, is murdered in the arms of a beautiful celebrity, it seems to be an open and shut case of a drug deal gone wrong. But Anna Markunas, legal researcher for the prime suspect's defence team, begins to uncover a far more sinister truth - a truth that could destroy everything and everyone she cares about most.

by Karin Slaughter (4 stars - LG)
Three years ago former Grant Country medical examiner Sara Linton moved to Atlanta hoping to leave her tragic past behind her. Now working as a doctor in Atlanta's Grady Hospital she is starting to piece her life together. But when a severely wounded young woman is brought in to the emergency room, she finds herself drawn back into a world of violence and terror. When Special Agent Will Trent of the Criminal Investigation Team returns to the scene of the accident he stumbles on a torture chamber buried deep beneath the earth. And this hidden house of horror reveals a ghastly truth – Sara's patient is just the first victim of a sick, sadistic killer.

by Gregg Hurwitz (4.5 stars - CS)
Part-time teacher Patrick is having a horrible run; his screenplay was slated for big success until the obnoxious lead actor falsely accused him of assault, he’s being sued by the studio, and his neglected wife Ariana had an affair. Then things get worse – DVDs showing hidden-camera footage of their disconnected domestic life start appearing. Someone is out to get him, and he must follow their instructions or someone will die.

by James Ellroy (3 stars - LJ)
It’s 1968. Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King are dead. The Mob, Howard Hughes and J Edgar Hoover are in a struggle for America’s soul, drawing into their murderous conspiracies the dammed and the soon-to-be damned. Wayne Tedrow Jr.: parricide, assassin, dope cooker, mouthpiece for all sides, loyal to none. Dwight Holly: Hoover’s enforcer and hellish conspirator in terrible crimes. Don Crutchfield: is a kid, a nobody, a wheelman and a private detective who stumbles upon an ungodly conspiracy from which he and the country may never recover.

All three men are drawn to women on the opposite side of the political and moral spectrum; all are compromised and ripe for destruction. Only one of them will survive. The final part of James Ellroy’s 'Underworld USA' trilogy is set during the social and political upheaval of 1968-72.

By David Rotenberg (3 stars - CH)
Inspector Zhong Fong is the featured detective in these three police procedurals about murder and violence on Mainland China. Two people are killed and dismembered (THE SHANGHAI MURDERS), 17 businessmen are brutally massacred (THE LAKE CHING MURDERS) and a patient and a full surgical team are blown to smithereens (THE HUA SHAN HOSPITAL MURDERS). Clive Hodges reviewed all three Rotenbery books together, giving the trio 3-stars collectively.

UNNATURAL DEATH (crime classic)
by Dorothy L. Sayers (3 stars - CH)
First published in 1927, this is the third book in the Lord Peter Wimsey series. The wealthy old woman was dead -- a trifle sooner than expected. The intricate trail of horror and senseless murder led from a beautiful hampshire village to a fashionable London flat and a deliberate test of amour -- staged by the debonair sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey.

by Marianne Delacourt (2.5 stars - AF)
Tara Sharp should be just another unemployable, twenty-something, ex-private schoolgirl . . . but she has the gift - or curse as she sees it - of reading people's auras. The trouble is, auras sometimes tell you things about people they don't want you to know.

When a family friend recommends Mr Hara's Paralanguage School, Tara decides to give it a whirl - and graduates with flying colours. So when Mr Hara picks up passes on a job for a hot-shot lawyer she jumps at the chance despite some of his less-than-salubrious clients. Soon Tara finds herself sucked into an underworld 'situation' that has her running for her life.

by Michael Connelly (4 stars - CS)
Harry Bosch is assigned a homicide call in South L.A. that takes him to Fortune Liquors, where the Chinese owner has been shot to death behind the counter in a robbery. Joined by members of the department's Asian Crime Unit, Bosch relentlessly investigates the killing and soon identifies a suspect, a Los Angeles member of a Hong Kong triad.

But before Harry can close in, he gets the word that his young daughter Maddie, who lives in Hong Kong with her mother, is missing. Bosch drops everything to journey across the Pacific to find his daughter. Could her disappearance and the case be connected? With the stakes of the investigation so high and so personal, Bosch is up against the clock in a new city, where nothing is at it seems.

by George Pelecanos (4 stars - AF)
When Thomas Flynn leaves his son, seventeen year old Chris, at Pine Ridge, a juvenile prison near Washington D.C, his heart is broken but his mind is made up: Chris will have to pay for the mistakes he's made. Inside, Chris is exposed to kids from a different D.C than the comfortable one he knew - one less remote from the street fights, car chases and marijuana deals that got him here in the first place.

A decade later, Chris and the friends he made at Pine Ridge seem reformed. Chris has a job, thanks to his father, a girlfriend and his own apartment. But when he and the others are inadvertently caught up in a burglary, old habits and worse instincts rise to the surface, threatening this new-found stability with sudden treachery and violence.


I also wrote a couple of non-fiction reviews (one sports book, one history) for the Dec/Jan issue of Good Reading, but since this is a crime/thriller fiction blog, we'll stick with those contents.

So have you read Good Reading? What do you think of the magazine? What crime/thriller authors would you like to see interviewed and featured in future? Have you read any of the books or authors reviewed of featured? What do you think of them? Do you agree with the ratings? Suggestions and comments welcome.


  1. I haven't read Good Reading - yet. Your description of it makes it quite tempting, though. What seems especially interesting about this is that there are all sorts of books discussed, not just one genre or sub-genre. It sounds terrific.

  2. I always look for new issues of Good Reading magazine in the Gisborne library - I haven't seen it anywhere else. It's a very interesting magazine and I have often sought out books or authors after reading about them in it. There's always a great selection of crime book reviews.

  3. It's mainly sold in Australia Catherine - not many copies make it over to our side of the Tasman, although most that do end up in the libraries (although a few bookstores are increasingly starting to stock it - e.g. Borders Queen St in Auckland, and a few independents that have discovered it and liked it).